Healthcare News November 30, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Boehner wants details on spending cuts

    The fight over the “fiscal cliff” raged on Thursday as Republican leaders sounded pessimistic about the prospects for a deal. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he was “disappointed” in the state of negotiations.

    “Despite claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” Boehner said.

    The White House reiterated Thursday that President Obama will only support a deal that raises tax rates on top earners, and congressional Democrats have held firm against benefit cuts in major entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

    Although the White House has put a series of Medicare and Medicaid cuts on the table in previous debt talks, Boehner criticized the administration Thursday for failing to provide a specific proposal for spending cuts to avoid the automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to hit in January.

    The Hill’s coverage is here.

    A ‘yes’ on Medicaid: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said Thursday that he wants to take part in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, setting the stage for a fight with the GOP-controlled state legislature that must approve his budget proposal. Nixon said participating in the Medicaid expansion would cover roughly 300,000 uninsured Missourians.

    “It’s the smart thing to do, and it’s the right thing to do,” he said in a statement.

  • Cancer research bill adopted as defense bill amendment

    A bipartisan cancer research measure was adopted as an amendment to the Senate defense bill, paving the way for its passage after nearly six years of work.

    The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act mandates that federal health officials create research frameworks for pancreatic and lung cancer, which have five-year survival rates of less than 50 percent.

    The bill began as the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, a project of Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who first introduced it three Congresses ago.

  • Defeated Rep. Jason Altmire to join healthcare company

    Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) is heading to K Street.

    Altmire, who lost a primary battle against Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) earlier this year, is joining Florida Blue, the state’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company. Altmire will be the company’s senior vice president of public policy, government and community affairs. Critz lost in the general election to Republican Keith Rothfus.

    Altmire said he was happy to have the chance to work on healthcare policy. 

    “During the past six years, I have worked to represent every constituent in our diverse district and give western Pennsylvania a voice in Washington. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve the district and I am proud of the work that we did together,” Altmire said in a statement. “Now that the time has come to move on to the next phase of my life, I am delighted to return to my career roots in healthcare policy and community affairs.”

  • Poll: Most favor stronger soot rules

    Most voters want the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with stricter soot regulations, though some are skittish about how those rules would affect the economy, according to a poll released Thursday.

    An American Lung Association poll of 942 registered voters found that 39 percent strongly favor and 23 percent somewhat favor harsher rules on soot, also known as fine particulate matter. The rules would affect particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

    Oil refineries, factories and power plants emit those air pollutants, which are linked to heart and lung damage, along with premature death and cancer. EPA faces a Dec. 14 deadline for finalizing those rules.

    While the draft rules would tighten soot standards, the White House instructed EPA to soften the original proposal this past summer.

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